HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Comics Today's Date:

Words and Pictures

Oh, I know. Last week Josh promised a continued look at his stance on whether or not superheroes should kill. But along the way between then and now, he got a job. A good one. And for us here at Fanboy Planet, possibly an exciting one. Will he return? We hope so. But in the meantime, he has supplied us with this substitute column by Brendan McGinley:

Pardon me while I take the long road to a short point:

One of the great benefits of living in New York for anyone, but comic fans especially, is the massive library system. I spent a full two weeks plundering the Fifth Avenue branch for treasures both dearly familiar (e.g. the works of Will Eisner) and salaciously rare (those of Winsor McCay).

Exhausting the library’s resources, I wandered midtown Manhattan, drunk on the last century of comics. I needed more.

Cut to: Virgin Megastore in Times Square, which, after Jim Hanley’s Universe, may have the best selection of comics in New York. Unlike most comic stores, Virgin has the money, space and time to stock a wide selection, and unlike all comic stores, they don’t bother with periodicals: only trades. That means superheroes share space evenly with any type of story you could want. I dig this, because while I love the potential stories implicit in superpowers, I’m weary of the soap opera that comes with them.

This, I suspect, is a large part of the problem many people have with superheroes. One reason superheroes are ridiculous is their powers, challenges and even timelines are distended over decades. When our ancestors told superhero stories, they remembered to give them deaths as well as lives. In a commercial market, that’s just not going to happen until no one cares anyway (Sherlock Holmes probably being the first anti-casualty of this).

I’d argue that Warren Ellis’ DARK BLUE was a superpower story that had the good sense to end while it was still satisfying (superpower, sci-fi, tomayto, tomahto, I still saw a man peeling buildings with his mind). The same is true of Garth Ennis’ PREACHER, even if Jesse rarely invoked The Word by
the end.

Ennis is a vitriolic abuser of super-characters, and he often plays this to great effect. But with success and a solid fan base has come the freedom to do whatever he wants—which would
be a great thing, if he could be counted on to keep challenging himself.

Unfortunately, he can’t. Every other work of his takes increasingly easier stabs at making fun of super-heroes. This is not a hard thing to do, folks; they’re wearing full-body spandex. Yeah, some superhero comics are aimed at adults, but making fun of Superman is like deconstructing Red Riding Hood (sorry Josh, but it’s true, and if it’s not, it should be).

The “iconic” superheroes are iconic because they’re simple, universal concepts.

Jeez, Garth…I don’t like Jerry Falwell, but not only is it easy to show how stupid he is, you only need to do it once. Going to town on ol’ Jerry every other time I sit down at the keyboard
would undermine my dismissing him. It’s fine to dislike superheroes, but it hurts to see a good writer taking the easy route.

Laughing at superheroes is not only a paltry elitism, it keeps the reader outside of the story. It’s like making fun of Goths and rednecks in PREACHER; sure it’s fun, but it’d take more skill to make the reader react favorably to them.

And I know that Ennis has it. He expressed the same sentiments much better in THE PUNISHER KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. This is nothing but satire of super-heroes, yet it’s accomplished with the reservation and craft to create a powerful story, drawing the reader in with dialogue and developments that vibrate between awesome, hilarious and heart-breaking.

When the X-Men pose on the moon for their aborted final battle, their words jibe subtly at the over-wrought scripts of Claremont, but it doesn’t detract from the nuclear bomb that suddenly explodes in their faces. And when a bitter Wolverine brawls with the Punisher over their deaths, the satire yields to the intensity. You can practically hear their screams, both characters right,
wrong and doomed by the hatred and love driving them.

But the next time Wolverine met Punisher in County Ennis, he talked like a Baltimore longshoresman and got played for great — but easy — laughs. Hey, I laughed, and I laughed hard, as a reader. As a writer, I was disappointed and frustrated that yet again, Ennis’ career is shrinking rather than growing.

And it’s not just superheroes; the remainder of his work is cowboys (sometimes in the guise of soldiers and mobsters) gushing over the same movies Garth likes, and discussing what
makes a man. Throw in a capable, resilient woman and a lovable loser (smart bet is he’s named “Soap”) for comedic relief and a disfigured villain who’s actually not much of a threat, and you have the ingredients for about half of Ennis’ work. Bugger well and serve chilled.

That was great in PREACHER, and I still love it there, but it’s too idiosyncratic to repeat (can you say FURY, Garth? Can you say “phoned in”?) He’ll always have his core fan base, I’m sure, but he could have a lot more with another project as revolutionary as PREACHER or variant as HEARTLAND. Ennis has been compared to director Quentin Tarantino throughout his
career; it’d be a shame if that included burning out in a big way.

Let us know what you think of Brendan's subbing job -- should we be asking for more?

Fanboy Planet

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites